V. The Writing Rhythm (2/8/1982 – 11/15/1982)

“Mina Bell’s Cows” is published in The Atlantic, 1983.
Poetry Magazine

My year-long sabbatical leave from Colby Sawyer has been crucial to continuing the momentum started by the NEA fellowship, providing a range of poems in progress together with poems for Joey’s “fall campaign,” as Don has begun to call the process of submitting to magazines. “You are really building up a nice group for Joey,” he writes on September 30. On sabbatical in a period when my two oldest sons have left the nest, I have settled into the luxury of a daily writing schedule, teaching classes at neighboring colleges at night to make ends meet. Going into isolation with my poetry (naming the creation of poems a “vocation” twice in the early letters of this section), I write Don mostly when I am sending work for his critical assessments. I have caught the rhythm of the writing life at last, and I am possessive of it.

That rhythm continues right into the fall of 1982, even though I am teaching a four-course load at Colby-Sawyer and two night courses elsewhere. Outside of this correspondence, I am preparing all of my classes and correcting papers on weekends, just so I can spend a couple of hours each weekday morning writing poems. “Writing is going fine, in spite of all my teaching and other duties!” I write Don on October 31. “I remain on my daily schedule!”


McNair’s farmhouse in North Sutton
Eagle Pond Farm

In the meantime Don continues with his freelance writing and his poetry readings around the country. Busy as he is, it’s hard to schedule time in the fall of 1982 to discuss the organization of my book manuscript, The Faces of Americans in 1853, at his farmhouse, but I persist. Four years into the submission of my collection (I call it the”Most Famous Little-Known Unpublished Manuscript of Our Times”), I spend more time than ever in these letters fretting over its shape and content.

We meet at last to prepare the book for my own fall campaign.

[This section has 55 letters]